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MP, Judge Verbally Spar at High-Profile Murder Trial
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 3 Jul.'06 / 13:38

Court hearing of Sandro Girgvliani’s high-profile murder case turned into a confrontation between the opposition leaders and the judge, as well as with the Tbilisi City Court’s guard on July 3.

Inside the courtroom some of the opposition politicians, including MP Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader of New Rights party, verbally sparred with judge Giorgi Chemia accusing him of bias. As a result the judge demanded MP Gamkrelidze to leave the courtroom.

Outside the courtroom the City Court’s guard did not let a group of opposition politicians including Tina Khidasheli of the Republican Party enter into the courtroom citing that the site was overcrowded.

Chairman of the Supreme Court Kote Kublashvili announced after the incident that MP Gamkrelidze will no longer be able to attend Girgvliani murder trial because of stirring too much noise and disorders at the hearings.

Questioning of witnesses into the case continuedat the trial on July 3. Four officers from the Interior Ministry’s Department of Constitutional Security are facing charges for killing Sandro Girgvliani in January, 2006. Although suspects admit that they have took Girgvliani and his friend in outskirts of Tbilisi and beaten them up, they deny that they have killed the victim.

This high-profile murder case has become in a focus of the Georgian politics in February, immediately after the televised report aired by the Imedi TV alleged that some top-level officials from the Interior Ministry could have been involved in the case.

Relatives of the victim, as well as opposition parties and some human rights groups claim that Data Akhalaia, ex-chief of the Department of Constitutional Security DCS; Vasil Sanodze, ex-chief of the general inspection of the Interior Ministry (both of them were suspended from the office in March), as well as Guram Donadze, former Interior Ministry spokesman and Interior Minister’s wife Tako Salakaia, or at least one of these persons, could have ordered persecution of Sandro Girgvliani after the victim insulted Guram Donadze in a café in downtown Tbilisi.

These former officials, as well as wife of the Interior Minister were questioned by the court on June 30. They have stated that they have not heard Girgvliani insulting Donadze, as Girgvliani was sitting on another table and the music was playing loudly in the café.

Both the Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office, which have carried out investigation into the case, claim that the incident was a result of a spontaneous quarrel between the suspects and the victim which occurred outside the café. But chief of security of the café, who has also been questioned by the court, ruled out that a quarrel, or incident took place outside the café on that day.

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